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Google Ads is the predominant way businesses advertise to their online audiences.
Many businesses don’t have the knowledge to run Google ads effectively and so turn to Google Ads specialists to optimize their campaigns.
These specialists know the ins and outs of Google and how to best structure campaigns for success.
If you want to become a Google Ads specialist that can deliver consistent results, there is a lot you need to learn.
In this guide, I will draw on my 15 years of experience managing Google Ads accounts to give you a simple step-by-step process for how to become a Google Ads Specialist.
How to Become a Google Ads Specialist
These are the steps to follow to become a Google Ads certified professional.
- Learn how Google Ads work
- Understand the Google Ads certification process
- Choose your Google Ads certifications
- Prepare for the Google Ads exam
- Get Google Ads certified
- Apply your skills
- Stay informed of Google Ads changes
- Renew your certification
- Start blogging about Google Ads
- Create a portfolio and gather customer reviews
1. Learn how Google Ads work
The first step to becoming a Google Ads specialist is to know how Google Ads works.
I’ll explain the most efficient way to learn Google Ads, but first, let’s have an overview of what you’ll need to know.
Google Ads is an advertising platform that enables businesses to advertise their products and services across Google and its web properties.
The ads follow a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning businesses pay for each click their ads receive.
The ads run on an auction where various businesses bid to have their ads show to certain users. Google processes these bids and other factors in real-time to determine which ads show.
Businesses can select who to target with their ads and what type of campaigns to run. Campaign type determines what format you can use for your ads. Google currently supports the following types of campaigns:
- Search Campaigns: These ads are text ads that appear at the top of results pages for searches made using Google. Search ads can also appear on Google partner sites.
- Display: These ads are graphic/text ads that appear across websites and apps in the Google Display Network.
- Shopping: These ads are for individual eCommerce products. You can find them at the top of the search results pages or in the Shopping tab beneath the search field. Shopping ads consist of product images, a description, and the item’s price.
- App: These ads are for applications and can appear in Google Play, Youtube, or Google Search.
- Video: These ads appear before videos on Youtube and other Google partner sites.
Google Ads Specialists must have the ability to create and manage all these types of campaigns. There is a lot that goes into optimizing PPC campaigns so Google Ads specialists are responsible for many tasks.
Here are some of the day to day responsibilities of a Google Ads specialist:
- Performing keyword research to find profitable opportunities
- Writing ad copy
- Setting up campaigns
- Managing bidding strategies
- Reviewing search query reports to find negatives
- Monitoring the effectiveness of campaigns
- Modifying campaigns to improve results
Now, let’s cover how you can best learn what you need to handle these various responsibilities.
The most efficient way to learn about Google Ads is to take a Google Ads course. Courses provide an easy-to-follow learning path and compile all relevant material into a single resource.
My favorite Google Ads course is our own Google Ads Course by Reliablesoft Digital Marketing Academy.
The course covers everything you need to know about managing Google Ads campaigns, including concepts for beginners, intermediates, and advanced advertisers.
For more quality learning material check out our guide to Google Ads Courses.
2. Understand the Google Ads certification process
Once you know how Google Ads works, you want to prepare to get Google Ads certified.
Certifications are the process Google uses to recognize your expertise in using their advertising platform.
When you can add a certification to your resume, it shows that you no not only know how to use Google Ads but that you also took the time and effort to pursue further education on your own.
When you run a marketing agency, certifications can help bring legitimacy to your practice. This allows you to stand out from the competition and can help you win more clients.
Google offers its official certifications through its Google Skillshop education platform. The learning platform provides courses you can study and an account for managing your certifications.
There are several different certifications available. Each one recognizes your proficiency in a specific area of Google Ads.
To get a certification, you need to pass a knowledge exam. The courses on Skillshop are designed to help you prepare for the exams.
There are also plenty of other learning materials you can use to learn about Google Ads.
3. Choose your Google Ads certifications
The next step is to choose what Google Ads certifications to get. There are certifications for each area of Google Ads. These are as follows:
Google Ads Search Certification – verifies that you know how to build and optimize search campaigns
Google Shopping Ads Certification – verifies that you know how to set up Google Merchant Center and how to optimize shopping campaigns.
Google Display Ads Certification – verifies that you know how display ads work and how to use them in a campaign.
Google Ads Measurement Certification – shows that you know how to measure and optimize campaigns using Google’s reporting tools.
Google Ads Video Certification – shows that you know how to drive results from video campaigns.
Google Ads Apps Certification – shows that you know how to use app campaigns to achieve different marketing objectives.
As a Google Ads Specialist, it is useful to have certifications in more than one Google Ads discipline. Throughout your marketing career, it is highly unlikely that you will ever need to manage just one type of campaign.
Businesses use Google Ads to cover every area of the marketing funnel. This can involve search ads for early funnel prospects or remarketing display ads to people further down the funnel.
With multiple certifications, you are better equipped to manage several campaigns at a time. This will also help improve the effectiveness of your advertising as you will understand how the different campaigns work together.
4. Prepare for the Google Ads exam
When you know what certifications you want, it is time to begin preparing for the exams.
The best place to start is with the courses in Skillshop. For each certification, Skillshop offers a set of online lessons you can use to prepare for the exam.
For example, the Google Ads Search certification has the following lessons you can use to prepare:
- Grow Your Business with Google Ads
- Explore the Value of Google Search
- Understand the Google Ads Auction
- Deliver the Right Message with Text Ads
- Make Ads Relevant with Search Ad Extensions
- Increase Efficiency with Automated Bidding
- Reach Valued Customers with Search Audiences
- Boost Performance with Optimization Score
- Increase Conversion with Performance Planner
To access the lessons click the browse icon in the navigation menu. From there go to Google Ads > Google Ads Certifications.
Find the certification you want and click it. You’ll then arrive on a page with links to the exam and all the study material.
The lessons contain videos, written text, and detailed examples. At the end of each lesson, there are assessment questions to test how well you understand the concepts.
When you answer the questions correctly, Google will mark the course as complete.
You can track your progress to see which lessons you have finished and which are left to go back on the certification page.
Once you complete the lessons, you can review the material as needed. Skillshop also has a knowledge check assessment (practice test) you can use to prepare.
This assessment is meant to mirror what you’ll find on the actual exam.
When preparing for the certification exams, it can be helpful to use additional learning resources.
The Google Ads courses I mentioned earlier are a good starting point as they provide comprehensive details on how to use Google Ads in a single resource.
You will also want to try out a few practice tests around the web. There are several websites that offer free prep questions similar to those found in the knowledge check assessment.
5. Get Google Ads certified
Now that you’ve prepared for the exam, it’s time to get certified.
All the exams are available directly through Skillshop. You can take them at home or anywhere else you can access the internet.
While there used to be an exam fee, all Google Ads certification exams are now free.
The exams consist of a mix of true/false and multiple-choice questions. You must score 80% or higher to pass the exam — except for the Google Ads App certification which requires a 70%.
The amount of time you have to take the exam varies depending on the certification. The type of certification also impacts how many questions are on the exam.
Once you open the exam, you must complete it in one sitting. If you exit the browser, the exam will immediately end.
After you pass the exam, you will receive immediate access to your certificate. There is a sharing link you can use to show the certification to others.
You can add this link to your resume, LinkedIn profile, or anywhere else it may boost your credibility.
With several Google Ads certifications on your resume, you will become a strong candidate for a Google Ads Expert at an agency or any other business.
If you fail the exam, don’t panic. You can retake the test as many times as needed. However, you will have to wait 24 hours from the previous attempt to take a retest.
Google Ads certifications don’t last forever so there is some work involved to keep yours active. More on this to come.
6. Apply your skills
Once you earn your Google Ads certificates, it is time to put your skills to work. Online courses and exams can only teach you so much. You will not fully develop as a Google Ads expert until you apply your knowledge in real situations.
Here are some practical ways to apply your Google Ads skills:
Get an entry-level position
The best way to put your skills to the test is to get an entry-level job as a Google Ads specialist.
As an entry-level Google Ads professional, you will get to start working on much of what you learned when becoming certified.
As an entry-level employee, you also get to work alongside experienced Google Ads experts.
These colleagues can share their knowledge with you to help you learn even more about Google Ads.
As you develop your skills, you’ll take on new responsibilities and have the opportunity to handle more of the campaign management.
There are always more individuals and businesses that need help from a PPC expert. You can develop your skills as a Google Ads specialist by working with these clients on their Google Ads campaigns.
Here are some good places to find clients looking for Google Ads services:
Along with checking job boards and freelance sites, you can also use your own network to find clients. See if you know anyone who needs help managing a Google Ads campaign.
Be aware that finding clients willing to work with you when you are less experienced can be challenging. Without a record of past results, many people will likely look elsewhere.
You can consider offering a free pilot project that way the client can assess your skills with less of a risk.
It can also benefit you to look for smaller clients. A full-fledged digital marketing agency may provide more resources for managing Google Ads but not everyone can afford these services.
For these smaller clients, a less expensive, independent Google Ads expert may be a better option.
Work on your own properties
Another way to hone your Google Ads skills is to work on your own properties. If you have a website or blog it can serve as an effective medium for ad campaigns.
When managing campaigns for your own projects, you can apply everything you’ve learned on your path to become a Google Ads expert.
If you generate positive results from your efforts, you can use the project as an example to showcase your ability to potential clients.
7. Stay informed of Google Ads changes
Being a Google Ads specialist requires constant learning.
Advertising best practices change and Google makes frequent updates to their platform.
If you want to remain an expert in Google Ads, you must keep up with all changes.
A simple way to do so is to find reputable sites that post regular Google Ads content.
Here are some of the sites I have found particularly useful in staying on top of the latest Google Ads news:
Google’s official blog is a great place to stay up to date with everything the company is doing. The blog is active and there are multiple posts most days. When Google rolls out changes for any of their properties, details are likely added to the blog.
In addition to updates, Google’s blog offers other resources you can use to further your knowledge.
If you go to the Google Ads Manager category, you can find helpful guides and blog posts on how to use the advertising platform.
Think with Google is another Google-owned property featuring useful market research and news on digital trends.
The website contains a mix of articles, presentations, and videos you can use to stay current on all things Google Ads.
Google Ads social media profiles
You can also stay up to date with any Google changes by following Google Ads on social media.
Google Ads has official accounts on popular platforms like Twitter and Youtube. They understand that social media is one of the best ways to reach their audience so any updates are shared across their different profiles.
8. Renew your certification
You will need to renew your certifications over the course of your career as a Google Ads specialist.
Google Ads certifications are valid for a one-year period. If you want to keep the certification active, you must retake the exam.
All the specifics of the exam are the same as the initial test. You’ll have the same amount of time, the same number of questions, and must achieve the same score to pass.
After you retake the exam, your certification becomes valid for another year past that date.
The expiration date is listed on each certification for you to know when to complete the renewal. Plus, Skillshop will send you a reminder email about a week before the certification expires.
9. Start blogging about Google Ads
Once you’ve built your skills and have started to gain some experience, you can focus on growing your business and sharing your expertise with others.
One of the best ways to do both of these is to start a digital marketing blog and write about Google Ads.
By regularly writing about Google Ads you can show your readers all you know about Google Ads. This will help establish you as an industry expert and can boost your credibility.
Your content can be a strong tool to gain exposure and grow your audience as the people that read it will be interested in Google Ads in some capacity. Many of these readers may have projects that require the assistance of a Google Ads specialist.
In addition to your own blog, you can also contribute guest posts to other reputable websites.
Doing so will help you reach even more people and further establish yourself as a Google Ads expert.
10. Create a portfolio and gather customer reviews
As you begin to find work as a Google Ads specialist, it is essential to gather customer reviews and build a portfolio of past projects.
When talking to potential clients, many will want to see what you’ve done in the past.
The most direct way to show them your value is to provide testimonials and reviews from previous customers.
Positive feedback from past clients can make prospects feel more confident in handing you the reins to their Google Ads account.
You should set up a system for collecting reviews from clients at the end of projects. The more details they give the better. Especially numbers. If you can quantify the results you led, the reviews are much more impactful.
When you get reviews, you can add each to a portfolio of your past work. As your portfolio grows, you will be able to share your successes with potential clients.
A strong portfolio will open the door for you to land bigger projects. Large accounts almost always want to see detailed records from past engagements before signing on.
Your portfolio will also be crucial if you want to start your own agency. Potential clients would assess the quality of your business by looking at your past work.
How much do Google Ads Specialists Make?
Now that we know what it is like to be a Google Ads specialist, you may be wondering how much Google Ads specialists work.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for Google Ads specialists in the US is $71K per year.
This amount can grow to over $100K annually for experienced Google Ads specialists.
Is it worth becoming a Google Adwords Expert?
Whether you own a business or want to work at a marketing agency, taking the time to become a Google Ads expert is worth the effort.
As a Google Ads expert, you will know the ins and outs of how the platform works and how to structure campaigns for success.
You can then use your insights to deliver optimal results for your clients or yourself.
Plus, with all the resources available, becoming a Google Ads expert is easier than ever.
Start with a course, get certified, and begin gaining experience. Over time you will become a legit expert in Google Ads and can enjoy all the benefits that come with it.